From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo, has appealed to the Nigerian media to halt the debate on the Muslim-Muslim ticket by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), saying the current insecurity as well oil theft by those he described as anti-national interest, were more pressing.
The governor made the appeal Friday, in the State House Friday, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, to seek the approval for the Federal Medical Center Owerri be converted to Federal university of Technology Teaching Hospital and for Alvan Ikoku College of Education to become Federal University of Education Owerri.
Uzodinma said: “I think that even the media, I want to use this opportunity to invite you people to prioritize our area of interest. First, the mood of the country today is not about who the candidates are. The mood of the country is that two or three years ago, we were producing 2.1 million barrels of crude oil every day. For over 12 years, that has been our main source of foreign exchange. Suddenly, because of the activities of those who are anti-national interest, we’ve lost over a million barrels and barely managing to produce 1 million.
“I think we should arise in unison to condemn the activities of crude oil theft by anti-Nigerian interest groups and bring back the economy of the country. Because you have to have a country first before you have a president.
“Look at the quantum of banditry going on in Nigeria today. To the extend that bandits are courageously even coming into the capital city. We should rise in unison and condemned these activities. “We should make emphasis on things that will unite the country and by the grace of God abandon those things that are capable of dismembering the country. Our national interest is important. Our national unity is important. Our ability to live together as brothers and sisters also important.
“The primary purpose of government is for the security of lives and property and the welfare of our citizens. To what extent have we supported federal government in achieving this primary purpose? Those are things that should occupy our minds now. But if you throw Nigeria into a situation where religious dichotomy, ethnic jingoism will be at the front burner, it means you are working against Nigeria.
“So let us allow political parties who have choosen their candidates, no matter the religion where they come from, to go out and do their campaign. It is left for the electorate to reject the ticket by not voting for them. Or accept the ticket by voting for them. But if we continue to make these things headlines, you are hitting up our polity unnecessarily. I want to beg you in the name of God, let us save our country.”
The governor the purpose of this visit, he expressed happiness that President Buhari has assured that the request for the Federal Medical Center Owerri to be converted to Federal University of Technology Teaching Hospital and for Alvan Ikoku College of Education to become Federal University of Education Owerri, would be approved.
The Imo Governor has also charged the federal government to identify the brains behind crude oil theft in Nigeria and bring them to book.
He described that the act as a cancer which must be dealt with to steady the economy.
He warned against treating perpetrators as sacred cows, saying that anyone involved in the practice must be brought to book irrespective of the status in the society.
Uzodinma who reacted to the World Bank’s recent projection that Nigeria faces an existential threat over its precarious financial situation.
He said “Even 25 years ago, before 1999, World Bank has always said Nigeria will break into pieces and today Nigeria has not been broken into a half piece. This country is loved by God and our faith in God has been keeping this country.
“We have had friendly enemies as partners, both internationally and nationally, but yet Nigeria continues to exist. There is nowhere in the world you will go and the gas stations you will see are not Shell, ExxonMobil, Texaco Overseas, all the major oil producing companies. It is only in Nigeria that you will hear languages like independent marketers, Okafor & Sons Filling Station and all that. What is the World Bank saying about that?
“It is only in Nigeria you talk about subsidy. What is World Bank saying about that? It is only in Nigeria you hear jargons like Turn-Around-Maintenance. Where else in the world do you have such language?”
“A refinery is a process plant that requires just routine maintenance and cleaning, but here we spend billions of dollars to do what they call turnaround maintenance. If you have been to the United States, Texas in particular, where crude oil production is heavy, when you are arriving Houston airport, look at the environment; they plant vegetables, farmers live there, an environment where they produce crude oil.
“What is the cost of producing one barrel of crude oil in Houston by Shell and what is the cost of producing one barrel of crude oil by Shell in Nigeria? But if you are in landing Warri Airport, look at the local river, there is no fish anymore, the place is highly polluted. There’s total disregard to our environmental laws and nobody’s raising all these issues, rather what we want to occupy ourselves with is knowing a party that has Muslim-Muslim ticket and a party that has Christian-Christian ticket.
“So, they are making a mockery of us and if we don’t rise up and address our challenges, nobody, I repeat, nobody, will do it for us. We have to define our country, we have to identify, collectively, our national interest so we can also collectively defend it.
“Our own bank is Central Bank of Nigeria and we are going to look up to them to come up with policies that will protect and secure our economy.”